Review: Honda Ridgeline adds pizzazz without odd looks – USA TODAY


SAN ANTONIO — Honda is about to take a second swing at building one of America’s favorite vehicles: the pickup.

The all-new Honda Ridgeline due to hit dealerships in June has more power, better fuel economy and a lower starting price than Honda’s first pitch to U.S. drivers, which garnered critical praise but failed to win large numbers of buyers when it was on sale from 2006 to 2014.

Perhaps most important, the all-new 2017 Ridgeline looks like a pickup. Gone are the odd, sloping walls of its bed and the triangular buttresses that linked the roof of the cab to the sides of the bed. Honda expects the Ridgeline to compete with midsize pickups such as the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. Ford is widely expected to join the fray in a couple of years.

The new Ridgeline acquitted itself well in a couple of days of testing in the Texas hill country. The new 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivers 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. That’s competitive with other new midsize pickups and a healthy increase from the old Ridgeline’s 250 horsepower in its V-6.

The Ridgeline accelerated comfortably on the Texas highways and hills, pulling smoothly and holding its own in traffic. The V-6 and all-wheel drive system proved capable in light off-roading that including driving through deep, soft sand up a steep dirt incline. The Ridgeline’s towing capacity of 5,000 pounds trails other V-6 midsize pickups.

Ridgeline prices start at $30,375 for front-wheel drive and $32,175 for all-wheel drive, including the $900 destination fee. The top model, a new trim level simply called the Black Edition, stickers at $43,770 and comes with all-wheel drive, navigation, leather upholstery and the truck’s craziest feature — truck-bed audio.

The combined fuel-economy ratings top competitive gasoline-powered midsize pickups but trail diesel pickups. Ridgeline checks in at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined. The all-wheel drive is 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 combined. By offering a front-wheel drive version of the previous Ridgeline the automaker expects it to help boost sales in southern states, where snow is not a factor.

The ride is smooth, absorbing bumps and cushioning off-road impacts. The steering and brakes deliver Honda’s usual fine performance. The cab is quiet at highway speeds.The Ridgeline’s interior is roomy and comfortable. The front seat provides plenty of storage. The gauges are simple and clear. Climate controls are simple, but the audio system retains the flat-panel touch points Honda cars use instead of switches or dials for volume and tuning.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphones come with upper models that have an 8-inch touch screen. A 5-inch touch screen is standard. Soft materials cover the dash and doors.

The rear seat also has plenty of passenger room and delivers good cargo space thanks to lower seat cushions that fold up to make room for big load.

What Stands Out

Looks: Like a regular pickup now.

Power: V-6 has 30 more horsepower.

Audio: Listen in the truck bed.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

What? The latest version of Honda’s midsize pickup.

When? Arrivess next month.

Where? Built in Alabama.

What makes it go? A 3.5-liter V-6 engine producing 280 horsepower.

How big? 17.5 feet, about 3 inches longer than the last version.

How thirsty? 18 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined in the front-wheel drive version. The all-wheel drive is 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 combined.

Overall? Lush truck,

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